Keith X. Donovan
“By far the best decision I have made is JUST STARTING…I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, but there is no substitute for LEARNING by DOING.”
published: May 14, 2022
1. Where do you live?
2. When did you start creating content?
My first post on my site went live in November, 2021.
3. Are you a full-time Creator?
I still thoroughly enjoy my full-time job in the biotech space (even though it makes consistently publishing very challenging at times).
4. What was the “Click” that made you decide you can make full-time money online.
Having the privilege of watching my identical twin brother Mike (@nichedown on Twitter) take his niche site from nothing to over $20,000/mo, really showed me what was possible.
I am early into my niche site journey (just over 6 months), with no near or medium term goals of becoming a full-time creator. I very much enjoy the biotech and the clinical research field that I am in. The plan for now is to continue to pursue both passions!
5. How many niche sites have you created?
I recently started my own personal niche site. In just over 6 months, I’ve published 120 posts and surpassed 37,000 pageviews/mo. Mike and I also started a side project site together (www.NicheTwins.com), where we will be sharing our project updates and what’s been working for us.
6. How many are you still running now?
Currently running both sites.
7. Have you sold any sites or online businesses? And what was the ROI like?
I haven’t sold any sites.
8. How many sites or online businesses have failed or not gotten going?
I launched a Bitcoin related site back in 2017 that never went anywhere. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at the time (if I had, I would have never attempted to rank a Bitcoin site in the first place…).
9. How much are you earning each month?
10. What are your current streams of revenue?
No earnings to report, as I decided to not monetize my website just yet. Every free second I have has been poured into content, with the aim of achieving 50,000 sessions and monetizing the site with Mediavine display ads straight away.
The timing of when to start monetizing your site will vary for everyone. For me, it all comes down to the ROI on my time. I can either sink time into the process of starting with one ad service, only to (hopefully) quickly change to another.
Or, I can use that time to churn out more content, and accelerate my trajectory towards 50,000 sessions. For now, I choose content.
11. What are your Top 3 on-page SEO strategies?
1. Reformatting my snippet answer key within the conclusion H2 of my posts. All of my answer keys are either paragraphs or lists (bulleted or numbered). So, if my opening section included a paragraph snippet answer key, in my conclusion I will often reformat the answer key to a list, and vice-versa. The Google gods get to pick whichever snippet format they like best.
2. I am big on using the concept of topical authority to your advantage. A strategy I deployed from day one, was identifying 5 different topic clusters or verticals to post about. I posted about 10 articles per topic, with thoughtful internal links between them.
Once Google started ranking one of the verticals more favorably than the rest, I went all in and published another 40 posts on that topic. Nearly all of these posts are on page one for their respective keywords and this vertical is the main driver of my overall traffic to date.
3. I also really believe in producing long-form, high quality informational posts. I hear a ton of people argue that the length/word count of your posts don’t matter. For some niches, and some specific keywords, that’s true. But, in my experience, for the majority of informational queries, word count absolutely matters.
I make sure I know the average word count of the top 5 ranking articles on page 1 and usually try to produce a piece of content that is a few hundred words longer (my posts average ~1600 words each). To be clear, I never achieve this with fluff content. Instead, I aim to be the first and last stop for the reader by comprehensively covering the topic. In doing so, my posts also pick up and rank for more keywords.
12. What’s the biggest issue(s) that you’re facing today?
Finding the protected time to keep up a consistent publishing frequency. Publishing 120 posts in 6 months, with a day job that often demands 60-70 hours a week, has been extremely challenging at times. For now, this has meant very early mornings, but I am constantly trying to find the right balance.
13. What tool(s) do you rely on the most?
- Ahrefs, SEMrush, & Google Keyword Planner (keyword research)
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console (site data)
- PowerPoint (image editing)
- YouTube and Forums (deep research)
- Excel (Keyword ‘hit-list’ tracking)
14. What has been the biggest mistake you made?
Not fully understanding the importance of keyword research. I made the fatal mistake early on of not putting in the time to do proper keyword research FIRST. And because of this, no one will ever read my first few posts.
I also didn’t fully appreciate the limitations of all the keyword research tools that are available. For example, I didn’t initially understand that the “volume” metric of how many average searches per month a given keyword gets is NOT how much traffic your post will get if you target that keyword (you will rank and get pageviews for SO many other variations of that keyword).
15. What has been the best decision you’ve made?
By far the best decision I have made is JUST STARTING. You simply can’t truly understand every SEO and niche site building concept without rolling up your sleeves and getting started. Yes, I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, but there is no substitute for LEARNING by DOING.
16. What’s one thing that you felt accelerated your journey the most?
Having my twin brother Mike as a mentor and first hand proof of what is possible with a niche site has been hands down the number one accelerant for me.
I also unknowingly purchased an expired domain. As it turns out, the previous domain owner had a site that was in the same ballpark as mine in terms of content. It only had 4 ‘nofollow’ backlinks, but 4 seemed to be enough. Google indexed and ranked all of my posts pretty much immediately. I managed to skip the sandbox!
17. What’s your 12 month goal?
My goal is to get accepted to Mediavine in the next 30 to 60 days, publish a total of 200 articles in my first year, and start earning more than $3,000 per month.
18. How do you stay up to date on the SEO, affiliate marketing, display ad, and other news?
Twitter. I can’t get enough of it! I’ve loved sharing my journey with the SEO and niche site community there and constantly learning from everyone.
19. What do you eat or drink for fuel to keep going?
I am a coffee fanatic. If you haven’t had a ‘Philtered Soul’ from Philz Coffee, you haven’t truly lived.
20. Where can people follow you?
You can find me @patientpublish (twitter.com/patientpublish) on Twitter. You can also follow Mike (@nichedown) and I at NicheTwins.com where we will be sharing our site journeys and what’s working for us!
BONUS: Anything else you’d like to share that can help others?
1. If you are serious about seeing results, you need to be disciplined with your publishing schedule. You’re 40% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. So commit to a monthly publishing frequency, and write it down!
2. The ability to hold the 30,000 foot view and end goal in your mind, while simultaneously breaking down the necessary steps to get there into small, actionable steps is a superpower. When you’re overwhelmed, it is usually because too much of your mental bandwidth is being spent thinking about the end goal. You just need to be willing to take one small step TODAY.